Local/State

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Millions of people enjoy watching birds. Some buy guide books. Some travel extensively in search of a particular species.

Experts say all you really need is interest. But they hope you'll be interested enough to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend.

Co-sponsored by Cornell University and the National Audubon Society, the annual count enables experts to track all sorts of population trends and then try to explain them.

For example, years ago, the common grackle was 160,000 strong. But one year, the number shrank to about 6,000.

It's theorized that the rest fell victim to the west Nile Virus outbreak that also hit America's poultry population hard.

Today, the grackles are rebounding. A type of dove imported to Florida from Asia not too many years ago has adapted well to America and is now seen in 40 states. We visited Wild Birds Unlimited's Cherry Hill store.

Owners George and Chris Fore say they used to help customers report findings to the organizers, and still will if you need help. But today, most simply go online to the bird count's website and fill in what they see.

You need not own any special equipment to participate, but experts agree that a guide book will help you figure out what birds are in your yard, and even inexpensive binoculars will help you see them better.

This year's count runs from Friday, February 17th to Monday, February 20th. The easiest way for you to take part is to go online to the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Last year, more than 92, 000 people took part, spotting more than 11 million birds, 594-distinct species.

Weild Birds Unlimited used to file reports for customers and still does, although most do it from home via their own internet connection.

The chain offers a vast selection of bird feeders, seed, bird houses, guide books and more.

They have stores locally in Allentown, Buckingham, Dresher, and Sinking Spring in Pennsylvania; Cherry Hill and Toms River in New Jersey; and in Hockessin, Delaware. They also sell products online.

Find more information on their corporate website, Wild Birds Unlimited, from which you can link to any store.

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